10 habits of thousand-year-old art collectors



Henry Codax at the Martos Gallery (2012).
Photo: courtesy of the Martos Gallery.

As the largest generation of the U.S. workforce, according to the the Wall Street newspaper, and a generation of consumers who are on track to spend $ 1.4 trillion a year by 2020 and inherit $ 30 billion in the years to come, according to the New York Times, it’s no wonder companies cater to millennial shoppers.

Coined by authors William Strauss and Neil Howe, the term applies to people born between 1980 and 2000 who grew up with computers and smartphones practically in their cradle.

But how do millennials consume in the art world? Here we take a look at their lifestyle and habits.

1. Millennial collectors generally have less access to capital than older collectors.
This observation is not surprising. There are cases where collectors carry on a family line of art collecting (with family money), but let’s be real. Despite the buzz around newly created billionaires in their twenties, not all young entrepreneurs, bankers, and tech gurus get rich so quickly. Pass the auction at Christie’s Evening Sale, hello to Christie’s First Open.

2. Network and agitation of thousand-year-old collectors.
“Networking” might sound like a dirty word, but anyone will tell you, it’s a must for any career. Kenneth Schlenker of the online art platform ArtList told artnet News by phone: “Older collectors are reading Art Forum, they will have advisers or they will work closely with one or two galleries. The young collector is networking with more people and is proactive in accessing things on their own, earlier, before they are exhibited in a gallery. Maybe directly in the studio. He continues: “They are more aggressive in this area.”

Roya Sachs.  Photo: via linkedin.

Roya Sachs.
Photo: via linkedin.

3. Millennial collectors also shop offline and online.
With the proliferation of online art sites, it’s easy to assume that a younger generation who grew up with the Internet would be in the midst of a transition from offline to online, but Tara Downs, Director of Gallery of tomorrow told artnet News, “I would say 50% of my sales are made by someone entering the gallery. As she exchanges photos via email, she says, “many collectors want to see the work in person.”

Independent curator and collector, Roya Sachs, says: “I love collecting at art fairs; there’s an energy and pace that is both thrilling and exciting, I guess in that sense I’m much more of a traditional face-to-face collector. She continues, “I will shop occasionally online, in galleries and at auctions if I’m looking for something more specific. “

The next purchase from collector and curator Roya Sachs is a work by David Shrigley.  David Shrigley, cup of tea for sale.  Photo: Davidshrigley.com.

Collector and curator Roya Sachs wishes to acquire a work by David Shrigley.
David Shrigley, Cup of tea for sale.
Photo: Davidshrigley.com.

4. Millennial collectors are more likely to take risks.
Downs explained that a subtle difference between older collectors and Millennials is their “sensitivity.” She noted: “Young collectors gravitate towards unusual materials and are closer to the contemporary sensibility with which the young artist is in tune. Older collectors are looking for more traditional and a little less risky pieces.

Alexander Hardashnakov.  Photo: Courtesy of Tomorrow Gallery.

Tara Downs says many collectors come to see her for Canadian artist Aleksander Hardashnakov.
Photo: Courtesy of Tomorrow Gallery.

5. Millennial collectors use social media to stay in touch with artists and galleries.
It’s difficult to fully assess how social media affects sales transactions, but it’s easy to see that social media is used to initiate and start conversations. Schlencker says: “Millennials want a direct connection. Most often, they will add the artist and gallery owner on Facebook and Instagram.

Likewise, Michael Xufu Huang, collector and co-founder of the Beijing Museum Mr. Woods, told artnet News he uses Instagram to “promote his museum and stay in touch with artists and gallery owners,” but never to buy directly from the app.

Michael Xufu Huang with Amalia Ulman at Art Basel in Basel.  Photo: via Instagram / Michaelxufuhuang.

Michael Xufu Huang with Amalia Ulman at Art Basel in Basel.
Photo: via Instagram / Michaelxufuhuang.

6. Millennial collectors who buy and sell works of art often reinvest their money.
There is a lot of talk about a new breed of “art pinball machines” – those who buy and sell art for a profit. It’s a short-term way of collecting that most veterans of the art world vehemently hate, for good reason. Noah Traisman, an art collector and restorer based in New York and Los Angeles, says he buys and sells art (he owns works by Mark Flood and Henry Codax) but only to reinvest the money he he earns from each sale in more art in order to expand the size and scope of his personal collection.

Traisman told artnet News: “A lot of collectors mistakenly think that negotiating deals or ‘flipping’ is a way to make money, but most people I know do it just to grow their collection. personal. To date, 100% of my profits have gone straight back to my collection. “

Mr. Woods collector and co-founder Michael Xufu Huang wants to buy a Richard Lin.  Richard Lin, Two Yellow (1967).  Photo: via artnet / Galerie Tadema.

Mr. Woods collector and co-founder Michael Xufu Huang wants to buy a Richard Lin.
Richard Lin, Two yolks (1967).
Photo: via artnet / Galerie Tadema.

7. Millennial collectors generally understand the canon less.
An observation that still makes sense, because as underlined above, the Millennial generation is a younger generation. It takes time to know the historical significance and references in art.

Matt Moravec Dealer of Off Vendôme told artnet News: “I don’t think there is much difference between young and old collectors. Both can be trendy, good, bad, market driven or not. Perhaps the biggest difference is that older collectors often have a better understanding of art history and where new works fit into a historical conversation.

Lena Henke and Max Brand's show at Off Vendôme was sold out.  Photo: courtesy Off Vendôme.

Lena Henke and Max Brand’s show at Off Vendôme was sold out.
Photo: courtesy Off Vendôme.

8. Millennial collectors want to do their own research.
“They [Millennial collectors] understand in order to do their own research, they have to connect with the right people. Schlencker said. This includes connecting with them via social media as well as in person. “Following the right people, checking out what they have, most of the time it’s on Instagram,” he explains.

“The first thing they do is follow the people they admire, collectors or celebrities in the art world. You end up discovering new artists, then you search for the hashtag, and then if you are really interested you will look for items and prices, ”he says.

Adrian Cheng, Zhang Enli.  Photo: courtesy of the K11 Foundation.

Adrian Cheng, Zhang Enli.
Photo: Courtesy of the K11 Art Foundation.

9. Millennial collectors acquire works of art that are meaningful to them.
Zhang Enli’s work, Space painting (2014), was recently acquired by K11 for K11 Kollection at Unlimited Art Basel in Basel. Collector and founder of Hong Kong K11 Artistic FoundationAdrian Cheng told artnet News, “I have followed Zhang Enli’s work for many years. From his earlier works to his recent creations, his pieces have deeply moved our souls. Especially for the young generation like us, who feel a close affinity with China, witnessing the transformation of China over the past 20 years: rapid economic growth, rural-urban migration and constant social conflicts. “

On a similar note, Traisman says a new favorite Instagram handle he’s following is @bryants_cuba because “as relations between the United States and Cuba evolve, I think these artists are about to have a major impact.”

10. Millennial collectors want to get involved.
Young collectors don’t just want to buy art, they also want to learn more about the art world. Institutions like the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art all have programs that involve Millennial collectors early on.

Depending on your level, these tips from young collectors include you in museum acquisitions, special events, VIP access to fairs and visits to artist studios. Members can range from bankers, financiers, inhabitants of the art world to all kinds of creative types. These tips are a sure-fire way to enter the “exclusive” art world, while also gaining a cultural education along the way – two great reasons Millennials love it.

Festival of young collectors at the Guggenheim on March 19.  Photo: observer.com

Festival of young collectors at the Guggenheim on March 19, 2014.

Related stories:

10 exceptional millennial artists to watch

Why, as a Millennial, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris is worth a visit

10 tips for newly created tech millionaire art collectors

11 rules of the art world decoded for beginners in their twenties

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